Guest Author - Rachel Meneses-Ponce
Concoctions that quench thirst and offer relief from the heat are many and can be had any time of the year in the Philippines. Most popular is halo-halo, literally means mixing and blending the ingredients before eating.
Halo-halo is a genre of its own. Preserved tropical fruits like jackfruit, Cavendish or saba the local banana variety cooked in brown sugar syrup, yam, sweet potato, tapioca, corn, sweetened red beans, chickpeas, pinipig or rice crispies, gelatine, are some of the few ingredients put together with shaved ice, milk and sugar. A slice of custard is placed on top and a scoop or two of ice cream may be added as final touch to this concoction. You mix everything together before eating it with a long-handled spoon. What ingredients to include depend entirely on personal preference. One popular restaurant which begun as a mom and pop stall has only three major ingredients in their halo-halo concoction, yet is very popular among consumers. This is one Filipino comfort food that is served at homes, or can be had from a neighbourhood stall to 5-star hotels.
Sago at gulaman is another favourite thirst quencher. It is made of tapioca pearls (sago) and cubed gelatine (gulaman) floating in iced water, sweetened with sugar syrup and flavoured with vanilla or banana essence. This “drink” is to Filipinos as lemonade is to Americans.
Ice cream is also very popular - from the ubiquitous street-type ice cream peddled in a cart by an ambulant vendor to upscale ice cream parlours. Indigenous Filipino flavors like ube (yam), langka (jackfruit), mango, macapuno (a variety of coconut, which is more fleshy), and cheese are best-sellers.
Someone with a sweet-tooth must have invented the ice candy. It began with flavoured fruit juices packed into plastic tubes and then frozen. This has become a successful small, home-based business to many stay-at-home mothers, especially during summer season. Even water is packed in plastic, frozen and sold as iced water. Very easy and creative way of earning a few pesos while children are on vacation.
As blenders become common household gadget, smoothies have become popular. Tropical fruits like melon, banana, pineapple, young coconut, mango, papaya, watermelon are popular. Even imported fruits like apples, grapes, kiwi, cherries, berries, oranges are also made into smoothies. For the health conscious, cucumber, carrots, ginger and a variety of leafy vegetables are also prepared into smoothies.
Other than those mentioned, there are many other quenchers available in the local market. Soda drinks and commercially prepared fruit drinks are a-plenty. Iced tea and its many variations are also available. Chilled fruit slices are also good options. For me, nothing beats the clear taste of water.